How to Replace Composite Playhouse Decking

Eliminate the safety hazard presented by rotting wood with this repair project.

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If your child's "fort" is under attack by rot, lead a counterattack. Here's how to replace deteriorating decking.

Materials and Tools:

workbench
sawhorse
ladder
circular saw
handsaw
power drills
pencil
straightedge
hammer
carpenter's square
clamps
chalk line
work gloves
safety glasses
dust mask
composite decking material
outdoor deck screws

Steps:

1. Wearing safety gloves, remove any railings that impede access to the decking. They're usually just attached with screws.

2. Remove old decking. Remove and replace one section of decking at a time so you can use existing decking as a platform. Be sure to dispose of old screws properly.

3. Mark for cutouts in the boards at the corners using a carpenter's square.

4. Wearing safety glasses and a dust mask, cut most of notch out with a circular saw, but don't go beyond the intersection of the lines you drew. Use a handsaw to make the final cut, and remove the notch.

5. Working from front to back, replace old decking with composite deck boards. Install all planks, spacing them equally, using the width of a nail shank or a carpenter's square to space planks. Don't worry about cutting planks to length until after they're installed.

6. Mark the position of the joists on the end planks, using a carpenter's square to line up with the nail heads.

7. Snap a chalk line between the points where you marked the joists to create a guide for driving in screws.

8. Drill pilot holes with a countersinking bit along the chalk lines. Drill two holes in each board at each joist position. Drive 3½-inch galvanized deck screws into each hole.

9. Use the chalk line to mark the outside edge of the deck to even up the planks. Starting with a plunge cut, use the circular saw to cut along the line and even out the planks. Clamp a straightedge to the deck to serve as a guide for the saw.

10. Replace the railings.

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